Enhancing safeguarding in Multi-Academy Trusts with strategic auditing

Date: Wednesday, 13th Sep 2023 | Category: General

Safeguarding encompasses a range of practices aimed at protecting individuals, especially vulnerable children, from harm and ensuring their well-being. In a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT), where multiple academies come together under a unified umbrella, the responsibility for safeguarding becomes even more critical. With a larger student body spread across different institutions, it becomes imperative to have a cohesive approach to safeguarding that leaves no room for oversight or leniency. 

MATs often handle complex administrative structures, which can pose challenges in terms of consistency and communication. A robust safeguarding framework acts as a safety net, providing a clear roadmap for addressing concerns, preventing risks, and responding promptly to any incidents that may arise. By fostering a culture of vigilance and care, MATs can create an environment where every student feels secure and valued. 

Safeguarding framework

While policies and procedures for safeguarding are essential, their effectiveness hinges on implementation and monitoring. This is where the strategic use of auditing comes into play. Audits involve a systematic review of processes, practices, and compliance to assess whether the intended goals are being met. 

The auditing process, when combined with comprehensive data collection, provides a clear picture of how each school is performing and where improvements are needed. Feedback, on the other hand, is the actionable information provided to schools based on the results of the audit. It is this feedback that serves as a catalyst for behaviour change by shedding light on areas of strength and highlighting opportunities for growth and improvements. 

By holding each school accountable for adhering to safeguarding protocols, MATs create a culture of vigilance and collective commitment to protecting students from harm. 

The Phew Audit System simplifies the audit process, saves MATs time and resources, and aids them in maintaining safeguarding measures to a high standard across their academies. 

The system fosters a culture of continuous improvement, enabling MATs to assess the effectiveness of safeguarding strategies regularly. This adaptive approach ensures that the trust remains responsive to evolving risks. Additionally, it enhances transparency and accountability by showcasing the trust’s commitment to safeguarding efforts and encouraging open communication with stakeholders. 

Sarah Slater, Manager of the Policy at Merton Safeguarding Children Partnership (MSCP), explained: “The audit helps provide the MSCP executive leadership with a clear overview of how partner agencies in Merton adhere to their duty to safeguard children, and what actions will be taken to improve any issues identified.” 

An essential component of the Phew Audit System is the formulation of an action plan. Along with offering a clear snapshot of the school’s performance at the time of the audit, the action plan can continue to be used in the future. By referencing the previous year’s responses and incorporating them into the current year’s audit, all information is consolidated into a comprehensive reference document. Regularly updating and utilising this action plan enables the creation of a gap analysis and facilitates SMART planning.  

Jon Needham, Director of Safeguarding at Oasis Community Learning, told us that: “The action plan for schools is a real bonus. They download it as an Excel document to refer to and we hold regular meetings with safeguarding teams to see how the action plan is being used and whether the necessary actions are being carried out. It’s also a valuable tool to present to the Local Authorities when required.” 

Further highlights of the tool are that it integrates seamlessly with existing systems, is responsive on all devices, and it can be fully branded to assimilate an organisation’s image. 

Would you like to find out more about Phew’s Audit System? We can provide a free demo at your convenience, so please get in touch at hello@phew.org.uk as we would be happy to arrange this.